A few months back I wrote about how Republicans were trying to keep college students from voting – they removed voting booths from campuses, they tried to knock kids off the voter rolls for using their dorm addresses, tried to institute photo ID laws, plus a dozen other nasty tricks to keep young Americans from voting.
But what Ohio Republicans are trying to do is disgusting. From Think Progress:
“Under a budget amendment filed by Republicans in the Ohio House, state universities that provide documents enabling students to register to vote in their college town, rather than in the state where their parents reside, will be forbidden from charging those students out-of-state tuition. Thus, the amendment would effectively reduce the funding of state schools that assist their students in registering to vote.
This is the second GOP attempt to restrict college students from voting in just the past month. About a month ago, a North Carolina Republican lawmaker filed a bill that would raise taxes on families with college students if the student registers to vote at school rather than in their parents’ hometown.”
North Carolina recently proposed another similarly ridiculous law, asking that taxes be raised on families of college students who register to vote outside the state.
Look past the fact that Republicans are trying to stop young people from exercising their rights for a moment. This budget amendment is not only horrible, it’s illegal. In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot change voting laws to put “unique burdens” on college students if those rules do not apply to the rest of the electorate of the state. So this law is both morally and legally wrong, as well as being a general waste of everyone’s time.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: rather than passing laws to grow the economy, level the wealth playing field, close the gender pay gap, improve education, slow climate change, and a million other useful things, conservatives are trying to ensure their own victory by stripping away the rights of others.
Ohio and North Carolina Republicans know that most (not all, don’t send me letters) young people vote more progressive, vote more Democratic, and over the past few years, have actually been voting. So of course conservatives want to stamp out this rising tide of (comparative) liberalism. Why encourage people to vote against you?
The problem is, the same people trying to stop college students from voting are the ones who pretend to be concerned with our rights and freedoms. My question for them: if we teach our children, starting in grade school, that voting is your right and your duty as an American, why are we expending so much energy to prevent them from exercising their rights?
What these misguided GOP legislators need to accept is that a democracy is a democracy whether or not they win. You can’t cry “voter fraud” when things don’t go your way.
Really, we should be encouraging more college students to vote and take an active interest in the future of their country. The hot-button issues we all argue about are going to have a major impact on the lives of these young people. They might as well have a say in the outcome.
It will be young peoples’ tax dollars funding the country. It will be young peoples’ paychecks sustaining social security. It will be young peoples’ children attending public schools. It will be young peoples’ environments affected by climate change. It will be young peoples’ families affected by reproductive planning. It will be young people going to war. Young peoples’ health, even their very lives, will depend on the decisions government makes about insurance coverage. It will be their careers affected by the economy.
Why, then, shouldn’t young people be encouraged to vote for those who represent them?